The Mouse is Quiet Now

We headed to my mom’s house last weekend for our holiday visit. By “we”, I of course mean “Wendi and I”. Our cats and fish stayed at home to play video games or whatever it is they do when we’re not there.

It was only an overnight stay, so while we anticipated a small degree of petty feline vandalism we weren’t expecting anything on the order of property damage. We figured they’d mostly sleep — maybe knock some piles of magazines over as the chased each other or tip the Christmas tree for fun.

(We have a table-top tree this year. Last year Fischer got tangled in the lights and we had to cut him free. He can’t crawl into this one, so he just throws it to the floor. It shows some perverse manner of holiday spirit, so we keep setting it back up for him.)

When we got home, everything looked to be remarkably in order. We set down our bags and marveled at our fortune. Wendi fed the cats as I began unloading our suitcases. Then I took a closer look at the cat toy I’d been absently stepping over.

“Oh,” I remarked. “That was a real mouse.”

Wendi confirmed my findings. It appeared that the cats had found something to do in our absence.

Then I went to put away our toiletries and glanced in the tub. Blood and fur attested that this had been the mouse’s final arena. Since that’s where Fischer most likes to take his toys, I figured that he had been the gladiator to face the tiny rodent. I imagined the others, wearing togas, turning their paws down at the end of the fight.

Well-fed house cats and Ancient Romans: nature’s perfect serial killers.

Wholly Musical Night

I love Christmas music. Nearly a third of my iTunes library is Christmas related. I’ve got all kinds: classic, traditional, folk, pop, rock, jazz, rap, blues, country, reggae, disco, outsider… and others I’m sure I’m forgetting right now.

So when Erin Zindle, lead of The Ragbirds, announced that they would be putting on their 7th annual Christmas concert with friends — well, I made sure to get tickets.

The concert was last Saturday, and even though I’d worn myself out with being social and learning a new JavaScript package I felt restored just waiting in my seat.

The music was an eclectic mix, which suited me perfectly. There were new arrangements of traditional songs, faithful covers of rock classics like “Run, Run Rudolph” (with George Bedard delivering a blistering rendition of its signature riff) and “Father Christmas, a string quartet, original songs, soul classics, Irish reels, and a spectacular version of the Charlie Brown Christmas theme, featuring banjo. Not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but an enjoyable stew of great music.

Of course, they had me at “Christmas music”, but fiddles, a brass section, and a banjo sealed the deal. Plus, the bongo-fueled “Little Drummer Boy” is one of two arrangements of the song I’ve ever truly liked.

If only they’d had a surf version of “We Three Kings”, it would have been a perfect night. Maybe if I start getting famous for electric uke I’ll get an invite some year. 😉

And They Tell Me I Can’t Work With Others

I’ve been worried about getting down-sized next year, so when a friend and coworker suggested that I start networking in the developer groups around town — I didn’t quite jump in, but I did cautiously dip my toe in the water.

As I already had conflicting plans for an after-work meeting, I decided to attend a “full day” exploration of a JavaScript package. Several caveats here: “full day” is quoted because you don’t have to stay for the entire session, I’m familiar enough with JavaScript to know that I never want more to do with it, and I knew going in that it would involve paired programming. Paired programming is exhausting for me at the best of times, as it takes me conscious effort to be social. At worst, it’s a great way to make me dream of a locked office with a pizza slot in the door.

Fortunately, this was one of the better experiences I’ve had. Everyone was agreeable and we more or less fluidly moved around our table offering input as needed.

The package (Angular, for those who care about such things) was interesting, and by noon I’d started to get my head around its particular elven incantations. The exercises we did were too simple to really demonstrate the usefulness, but a good programmer has imagination, and I think I’m decent enough at it to see the applications.

It won’t make me jump into a JavaScript project willingly, but it’s nice to know that there’s something to help make the script less cumbersome.

I left early, because we’d gotten bogged down in a configuration nightmare on my laptop, but I’d still say that it was a good experience. I’ll definitely try the after-work meeting though. I don’t particularly enjoy having to wear pants on a Saturday.

In the Event of a Real Fire I Would Probably Die

I was in the rest room at work, resting, when I noticed a persistent beeping coming from the hallway. After wrapping up my business, I sauntered out to find the office admins, in coats, conferring on who would do the final sweep for stragglers.

Putting two and two together, and getting the square root of 16, I realized that this weird, repetitive noise was meant to be a fire alarm. I swear it sounded different last time we had a drill. I remembered it as being a deafening klaxon, but this was merely an irritating blatting sound. To my ears it seemed like a video game telling you to please stop trying to do something.

As I limped back to my desk to get my coat–

Okay, back up. This morning I tried to hurry in to the office, for whatever fleeting purpose, I managed to outrage my foot and ankle in such a way that it’s hurt for almost 10 hours now. I should probably take some anti-inflammatories or something. This was the same foot and ankle that precipitated my surgery, so at least the resulting limp felt like coming home.

I wasn’t going to count on the building fire keeping me warm all the way over at our emergency gathering spot across the street, so I limped over to my desk to get my coat. As I did this, the senior admin asked if my friend Tim had found me. Tim, and his entire department, had been removed from the org chart last fall, so it seemed odd for her to ask this during a fire. I said he hadn’t, wondering exactly what had transpired while I’d been facilitating.

Freshly en-coated, I hobbled down two flights of stairs and joined the seething mass of non-productivity. It took a surprisingly long time for a fire truck to make the 2-block journey to the office, long enough that I was told that Tim was elsewhere in the throng. I found him and learned that he’d had extra time after lunch so had dropped by to say hi.

We said hi.

Moments later, the admins announced that we could return to work. I briefly considered getting a brownie sundae from the diner across from the office, but I was just too lazy. So I said goodbye to Tim and got in one for the elevators. All in all it went better than the fire at the bookstore had, but that’s another story.

EPILOGUE

The alarm was determined to be due to construction on the 7th floor. Somehow.

Tim presumably finished his lunch break and returned to work.

Wendi made me a sundae after dinner.